Is Sex a Need or a Drive?

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Libido | 29 comments

Is Sex a Need or a Drive
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When we talk about people’s “sexual needs”, are we muddying the waters?

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all  had a good weekend and a lovely Valentine’s Day.

I’m in the final crunch to get the manuscript for The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex in at the publisher, and then The Great Sex Rescue launches in two weeks (yay!), so I don’t think I’ve relaxed for a while, and this weekend was no exception.

One thing that kept going around in my mind, that fits into our discussion about the obligation sex message that we started last Thursday on the podcast, was that our framing of sex may be part of the problem.

What does it mean when we call sex a need?

When you say something is a need, you mean that they can’t exist in a healthy way without it. But does that phrasing cause a problem? I think it does, and let’s look at a few reasons.

Not all needs are equal

Anyone who has ever taken Psychology 101 will be aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. On the bottom are things like food and shelter and clothing, and then further up there’s social needs, like relationships and sex, and then you have your needs for actualization and purpose.

Basically, you don’t care about the further up needs until the more basic ones are met. So your need for actualization is not going to register when you’re starving. Your need for sex won’t register when you’re running from a bear. 

When we call sex a need, though, people don’t tend to picture Maslow’s Pyramid and think to themselves, “well, sure, that’s a need, but there are greater ones, so it’s okay if I tend to my greater ones first.”

No, when we call something a “need”, we tend to put it on the same level as the other things that we know we need–food, shelter, etc. And the “need” for sex is simply not analogous to many other things we truly need.

Calling sex a need changes the nature of sex

When we say that sex is a need, what are we really saying the ultimate need is? In our Christian literature, it tends to be about physical release. The book Power of a Praying Wife, for instance, says:

But for a husband, sex is pure need. His eyes, ears, brain and emotions get clouded if he doesn’t have that release.

Power of a Praying Wife

This is quite similar to Emerson Eggerichs in Love & Respect–“if your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have.” And that need? Again, physical release. 

But is the main need for sex physical release? Is sex primarily about physical release?

I think physical release is a huge part of it, and I do think orgasm is important–for both! We should not have a 47 point orgasm gap between the genders, and if orgasm is a problem for you, check out The Orgasm Course. 

The real point of sex, though, is intimacy. Sex is about a deep longing to be totally connected in every way–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–all at the same time. That’s the way it was designed. That’s the way it’s talked about in Scripture. And sex is supposed to be mutual.

So when we make sex about a husband’s physical release, we diminish the purpose of sex and what it is supposed to be.

There’s a difference between how we think about needs and desires.

One of the things I criticized about the book Love & Respect was the subtitle–the love she most desires; the respect he desperately needs. From the get-go, Eggerichs is saying that she has desires, but he has needs.

Now, needs take precedence over desires, don’t they? Because when it’s a need, we think of it in a certain way. We think: “they can’t function without this. They can’t help how they act without this.” Whereas when we think desires, we think, “this is her preference. This is what she’d like.” But you can still function well even if you don’t get what you want! That’s what we’re always teaching children, after all.

When we say that someone has a need, we also say something implicit about that. We say–therefore, someone must fulfill that need.

If someone has a genuine need, then whoever is in place to fulfill that need should do it.

When we phrase sex as a need, then, we turn sex in marriage into an obligation. And as we discussed on the podcast last week, that has terrible repercussions for a couple’s sex life.

But what if someone really wants sex and can’t function well without it? Is that bad or wrong?

No, I don’t think so. I just think we need better language for it.

I think we should talk about sex as a desire or a drive. Some people have a higher felt desire or higher felt drive for sex–and that’s totally healthy and okay. But when we recognize that it’s a desire or drive, then we also recognize that the responsibility for that desire or drive rests on our shoulders. We need to act responsibly with that. That means that we need to treat our spouse well, woo our spouse, honor our spouse.

And we need to realize that not every urge for sex is a need. I want chocolate chip cookies a lot, but I don’t eat them every time I want them. A desire for food is necessary and healthy; a desire for chips every time I’m hungry is not. Gluttony is a thing with food, and sexual gluttony can be a thing too. But when we say “sexual needs”, we imply that every time someone has a sexual urge, that represents something that must be fulfilled. That leads to a lot of frustration. I have had so many women comment here and on Facebook and send me emails since I started talking about the methadone podcast (how sex keeps him from watching porn) and the obligation sex message telling me that their husbands need sex multiple times a day.

That’s not a need. That’s selfishness and gluttony.

Here’s how I think we should talk about it:

Sex is a necessary component of a healthy marriage. 

Absolutely. A healthy marriage will have a healthy sex life at the heart of it. Sex should be something you both desire, that you both enjoy, that you both prioritize. Ideally, sex should be quite frequent (studies show at least once a week, and several times is even better, if you both enjoy it and if you can swing it due to your stage in life). But at the same time,

A healthy marriage is a necessary component of sex. 

Sex on its own can’t create a healthy marriage. We have to focus on the other aspects of the marriage as well. And that means that your spouse matters. Your spouse has dignity and honor and should be treated that way. Your sex drive does not supersede his or her need for sleep, or for rest.

I’m all for great sex. But I think we’d do better to recognize sex as a strong desire, not a need.

Marriage needs a sexual relationship, but not every sexual urge needs to be fulfilled.

That puts the responsibility back on the person having the sexual urge, rather than telling them they can’t help it, they need release–which puts the responsibility on the spouse and excuses the one with the “need” of bad behaviour.

Our survey of 20,000 women found that the obligation sex message just doesn’t work. It lowers libido and orgasm rates and causes sexual pain to skyrocket. And you can read all about that in The Great Sex Rescue! And when we talk about sexual needs, we give the obligation sex message. We just do.

How about we talk about sexual desires, which need to be negotiated and compromised and honored just like all other desires in a marriage? Your spouse’s sexual desires and drive is important. If you love your spouse, you should care about something that they really want, and you should want it, too–especially since sex is really the drive for intimacy. But in caring about it, there’s always the recognition that BOTH of you still matter. Wouldn’t that be healthier?

And when we talk about it like that–I bet more women’s libidos would return as well!

 

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue
Is Sex a Need or a Drive?

What do you think? Can we encourage couples to prioritize sex if we DON’T call it a need? Is calling it a drive more accurate? Let’s talk!

The Obligation Sex Debunking Posts

Some posts that have also dealt with obligation sex and coercion

And check out The Great Sex Rescue–with two chapters looking at where the obligation sex message has been taught, what our survey of 20,000 women told us about how it affected us, and what we should teach instead.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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29 Comments

  1. Laurel B

    I agree 100%! I like the way you explained the difference between desires & needs. I don’t understand why some Christians teach that sex is a need but also teach that there must be abstinence before marriage. Don’t they see the contradiction? I believe the Bible teaches sex is for marriage only – and that is a clear indication that humans don’t actually NEED sex to survive. Sure, my sexual desires as a single person were quite present & sometimes very strong, but by the grace of God I remained a virgin until we married. 🤷 Same for my husband. That same grace is available to married people who for whatever reason aren’t able to be sexually satisfied. I’m so glad you’re speaking out about this terrible teaching!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Laurel! It’s a difficult balance, because I do think sex should be frequent in marriage, and that it is important. But at the same time, the data was incontrovertible: Setting sex up like an obligation does terrible, terrible things. And the Bible is all about mutuality.
      I think we forget that self-control should be practised even in marriage, and that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

      Reply
    • Elsie

      I really agree with this comment and with Sheilas response. That quote from the power of a praying wife seems demeaning to our unmarried Christian brothers – it’s basically saying that men are not fully functional unless they are sexually active. Definitely need a healthier way of talking about this, appreciated the points in this post

      Reply
    • Jacqueline

      Great comment about the before and after marriage sexual needs/desires and that God’s grace is there for both to help us do the right thing.

      Reply
  2. Active Mom

    This post got me thinking. I agree the language can make things difficult. I guess my one question is I agree that her needs need to also be factored in. Sleep, or healing after giving birth to just name a few. I can acknowledge that men may actually have a physical need for release but it’s not fair to make her be solely responsible when she has more pressing needs that have to be met first. Wouldn’t taking the stigma away from masturbation help? If his physical need becomes too great he can deal with it while still lovingly helping his wife with her more pressing needs? I was always put off with the books that would tell me that it was my duty to be sexually intimate with my husband while I was recovering from child birth. I’m sorry I had c sections and some had complications I was in a lot of pain an discomfort and I was horrified I was being told that I should find a way to give him oral etc so he did not have to be deprived. Masturbation just seemed like the same loving choice for both of us.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually addressed this in my most recent post about masturbation. I think there are times when it can be the loving thing to do–but we just need to be careful about how we define those times (as in the post). I’d agree that your example is a good one.
      I think the bigger question we need to ask is this one: “How can we each grow intimacy in the marriage? How can we feel more like we’re one?” When that’s the question, often the solution becomes obvious. What is the best way to love my spouse and honor the marriage right now? And in a case where one is in pain and recovering, the solution is not for that person to have sexual obligations placed on them. But in a normal time, it’s important for each to be thinking about prioritizing the marriage and even sex, in the best way that fits with their lifestyle (like things will look different in the newborn phase than in the elementary school age phase, or when you have shift work, or when you’re in exams). But let’s prioritize each other. Then things tend to fall into place. The problem with the “sex as a need” is that it doesn’t prioritize intimacy, and it can even end up promoting selfishness which actually detracts from intimacy.

      Reply
      • Active Mom

        That makes sense. Those messages were always the most harmful to me. That even if I was physically hurt or sick I still should “offer to take care of his needs.” It made be resentful and truthfully angry.

        Reply
    • Chris

      Active mom, I agree with you on this. As a man, I don’t think sex is a “need” but ejaculation definitely is. Sorry, but if you don’t ejaculate in a controlled way, like with sex or masturbation, then your body will do it for you in an uncontrolled way usually in your sleep; the wet dream. That just gives you a big mess. Wet dreams do decrease with age but it can still be a problem.

      Reply
      • Lisa

        Dealing with a mess is okay. Women do it every single month, cleaning clothing, bedding, even furniture if we’re caught off guard by a heavy menstrual period. It’s part of being alive. Our bodies release things and we clean it up.

        Reply
  3. Martha

    Men don’t have this problem. If they are tired, unwell, not in the mood, whatever, they simply say we will have sex later. And they don’t think twice about it, they consider it totally natural. Women should take an example from them.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Where does having one’s spouse express understanding/concern for one’s emotions* fall on the “desire vs. need” scale?
    For example, I second-guess just about everything I’m about to say for fear of getting a lecture about why I’m wrong. And then if I say that I’m feeling dismissed/devalued, hearing, “That’s not what I meant, so you shouldn’t feel that way.”
    Should I tell myself that I merely DESIRE to feel heard and to have my emotions* treated as valid, but it’s not an actual NEED?
    Or is it an actual NEED to feel heard and have one’s emotions* treated as valid?
    (* By “emotions” I do not mean big outward REACTIONS … I mean actual named emotions that a licensed counselor would deem within normal bounds for the situation.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is a great question, and shows why we don’t have good language for this sort of thing.
      I think perhaps going back to Maslow’s hierarchy, as well as to a biblical understanding of sex, is so important. Sex is supposed to be about real intimacy, which means that both people have to matter. And for sex to be good, you have to be able to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable, you have to be able to trust, which means you have to feel safe. Before you can really have sex, you need to feel safe with your spouse.
      So safety comes before sex.
      Now, if we take sex out of the equation, in order to be in an intimate relationship, you also have to feel as if you are seen and heard. If someone routinely refuses to acknowledge your feelings, then they are not creating a marriage; they are actively ruining one. In that case, I’d normally suggest going to a licensed counselor and talking to them about this sort of thing. It sounds like you have done that in the past–is the counselor still available to you? I think learning to draw boundaries with destructive behaviour is very important.
      I’m not sure I’ve been clear, so let me try to say this in a different way.
      When we talk about a need, we tend to mean “I need this in order to live/exist.” By that measure, sex is not a need.
      However, to have a happy, healthy marriage, you do need a healthy sexual relationship. So sex is necessary for a healthy relationship, yes. But a healthy relationship is also necessary for sex–you can’t really have sex in a heatlhy way that isn’t destructive unless you feel safe and valued. So when we’re talking about a need, we have to ask, “needed for what?” If we’re saying, “what are the needs for a healthy marriage?”, then, we’d say safety and feeling cherished, then sex, then you’ve got a healthy marriage.
      So if you’re asking, is being heard a desire or a need, we have to ask, “for what?” Again, for existence, no. But if you’re going to have a healthy marriage, then, yes, this is a necessary ingredient.
      So if it’s not there, then you don’t have a healthy or safe marriage, and then you need to figure out what to do, and I do think seeing a licensed counselor can help with that!
      Sorry that’s so convuluted; just thinking as I typed!

      Reply
  5. Jane Eyre

    Thinking about this, the “sex as a need” belief rubs me the wrong way because of what it implies about sex. If sex is a need, it does not much matter with whom you have it or how the other person feels about it; we are only mildly choosy about our dinner companions and do not much mind if a person three tables over found their meal unsatisfying.
    Yet sex is the only one of two physical acts that inherently requires two people, and God reserves both for marriage. The other, pregnancy, is, er, quite related to sex. An unborn child needs its mother, without whom he would die. It is a burden that we all imposed on our own mothers, and in exchange, there is a literal Commandment to honour them.
    To put male ejaculation into the “need” category? Deeply problematic. It takes two people, which brings into question the relationship between the two people, the needs of the other person, and your obligations to that person. When the “need” can only be satisfied by your wife, flesh of your flesh and bone of your bones, the one you are supposed to love as Christ loved his church, you might want to rethink this “need” and start thinking about what you jointly need and what jointly benefits you both.
    Moreover, absent modern contraception (or modern knowledge about cycles), daily sex means babies on a very frequent schedule. For most of human history, people curtailed their sexual appetites as a method of family planning. To say that frequent sex is a “need” presupposes a modern world, and is therefore not timeless Biblical wisdom.

    Reply
  6. SLS

    My impression is that “need” and “desire” can both be loaded words. As Shelia pointed out above “need” is seen as an imperative and “desire” is seen as a mere preference by most people. IMHO neither a message of “sex is an obligation in marriage” or “sex is just an option in marriage” should be intimated.
    Sheila said, “When we call sex a need, though, people don’t tend to picture Maslow’s Pyramid and think to themselves, “well, sure, that’s a need, but there are greater ones, so it’s okay if I tend to my greater ones first.””
    Perhaps a better path is educating people about need hierarchy and what sex is truly about. Sexual intimacy is a relational need expressed specifically in marriage. Just as I can physically survive (food/ shelter need) without interacting with a fellow human being (relational need) a marriage can technically survive without any sex (relational need) but it is very emotionally damaging.
    Whenever I think about sexual education in the church the verse that comes to mind is Hosea 4:6a, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Many people don’t understand the basics of God’s design for sex. In a sentence He designed sex as a fun way to physically, emotionally, and spiritually bond a married couple while also creating the possibility of offspring. The goal is for husbands and wives to work together in good faith to fulfill each other’s and their own sexual desires.
    As someone with a teaching bent the lack of understanding about the above drives me batty. I try whenever I have the opportunity to reinforce what God designed and counter arguments that are harmful to married couples (many of which are especially harmful to women like “sex is just for the man”).
    P.S. Men do occasionally have a biological need for “physical release”. Sex with our wives shouldn’t be about that however. A mere physical release can be accomplished solo. I have sex with my wife because I want to share myself with her and her with me.
    P.P.S. You wrote a post a few weeks ago where you noted how back when you were younger the focus at church was a lot more on Jesus than the “do’s and don’t’s”. That is what is ultimately needed. Nothing wrong with topical messaging but it needs to be complemented with a deep dive into Scripture and who Jesus is.

    Reply
  7. Mara R

    Sheila in the above post: “When we say that someone has a need, we also say something implicit about that. We say–therefore, someone must fulfill that need.
    If someone has a genuine need, then whoever is in place to fulfill that need should do it.
    When we phrase sex as a need, then, we turn sex in marriage into an obligation. ”
    This is not only true in Christian marriage. This is true in our greater culture and outside marriage. Women/girls feel the repercussions of this attitude on so many levels. Too many levels to go into detail in a blog post comment.
    But the one thing that jumps out at me the most is concerning the mind of Incels who seem to view women and sex as a need like food. And since women aren’t putting out, women are viewed as the kind of evil of a mother that would allow her children to starve because she simple didn’t feel like feeding them. Simply didn’t feel like fulfilling their very real need even though it was completely within her power to do so.
    I know. This thought could be considered off topic and I apologize if it is. But to me, it isn’t that far off because Christian culture is very influenced by the wider culture and vice versa.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      No, not off topic at all! That’s definitely the logical conclusion to it. You see it in that Toronto attack by the incel a couple of years ago. He felt girls owed him something because he was entitled. We need to see sex as relational and mutual, not about one-sided entitlement. It’s foundational.

      Reply
  8. WK

    A healthy marriage has a healthy sex life at its core—my exception!
    I’ve been in a Christian marriage for 44 years to the same woman and have been sexless for 30 years and no sex the last 14. Sex starting out was OK but her interest was only to get pregnant. Orgasm caused her a lot of pain so we simply stopped having sex. Body image didn’t help either with stretch marks from 2 babies, the resulting weight gain and varicose veins. Oral sex was out of the question as was mutual masturbation( she wouldn’t touch my member). Going into marriage, I expected a different sex life than this but have made peace with God and accepted my station in life.I have a fulfilling marriage with no sex and enjoy my life with my “roommate wife”.Looking forward to my Golden anniversary!

    Reply
  9. StuckOnZero

    As a husband, I agree from personal experience that obligation and expectation fuel the ‘I have no choice’ feeling, which KILLS any desire for connection through sex. However, don’t place the blame on only the husband for the obligation and expectation. I mistakenly placed that burden on my wife in my immaturity and ignorance, but even once I repented, and did the work to advance my identity/self-soothing/etc to handle (even celebrate) my wife’s rejection, it doesn’t automatically remove the idea of obligation/expectation in the mind of my wife. In many cases, her fear of failure or fear of disappointing her husband (and her own immaturity) have her feeling that same ‘I have no choice’, even when my pursuit of her is gracious and understanding.
    I would really love more conversation about “Now What?”. My wife cannot figure out how to want something she doesn’t want, yet obviously wants her family staying together. I care greatly about saving our marriage, but sex is off the table and my wife cannot move off of zero without feeling like she’s lost her choice. So answering the question of: “What do you do if you find yourself not wanting/desiring your spouse, and any thought or suggestion of ‘reconnection exercises’ or ‘tips for increased emotional connection’ just triggers you?” would be extremely helpful… thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • CB

      Hello Stuck On Zero! This was my exact situation a few months ago! I was so used to assuming the obligation sex message that even after I became convinced Hubby would rather not have sex than have me not enjoy it, I continued feeling pressure when it wasn’t there. What helped us was seeing an amazing counselor, and I will link to her website below, and doing a 3-month sex fast. As soon as I knew he was committed to no sex for 3 months, and I was actually being told the opposite, that is, DONT have sex, I started wanting it haha. It has truly done wonders for our marriage. But there were a lot of things in my past that I also had to work through with the counselor which were giving me wrong views on sex. Hubby helped most when he was patient and forging and non judgmental. We also had a few fights in the process when he came across as the opposite of those. Understandably so.
      https://www.primecounseling.com/lindsey-stanley

      Reply
  10. Jan Ewing

    Thanks Sheila for what you do for marriages. Today, I take some exception to this article “Is Sex a Need or a Drive”. In your article you quoted from “A Praying Wife”: “But for a husband, sex is pure need. His eyes, ears, brain and emotions get clouded if he doesn’t have that release.” And the article proceeded to explain “And we need to realize that not every urge for sex is a need.” I agree, but I believe how the “need” aspect of the article is spoken of is overall dismissive, downplayed by referencing to Maslow’s, and portrayed as selfish. It seems our culture, media, etc is determined to dismiss men as self-centered, inconsiderate, bungling, and to be merely tolerated at best. So, I guess this article struck a sensitive nerve. So, bear with me here a bit with respect to discussing men’s (at least my) “need” for sex.
    I would much rather have intimate sex than relief sex but when the “need” becomes too intense intimacy becomes secondary (undesirably) as the need becomes more overwhelming. But when men share this or pursue sex at a frequency to allow intimacy over relief sex we are often viewed as sex addicts, self centered, or worse. As is now normal, this falls into how media, society is portraying men.
    Here is my reality and honestly, it strongly aligns with the description in the Praying Wife quote. To qualify this, I first say that I truly hate obligation or duty sex. However, as my physiological “need” builds over a few days my mental and physical state rapidly deteriorate. The tension all over my body grows almost unbearable. I can wake in the morning and before my feet hit the floor I clearly know my state of mind simply sucks. I have to pray for strength to discipline my thoughts, attitude toward the world, others, to be patient, and not quick to react. Even my mental faculties begin to fail (e.g. lack of focus when driving). As it gets extreme I often have to be alone, find distraction through intense work, etc to temper my thoughts, and to avoid merely seeking self-relief (which is unacceptable with my wife). In this state I merely long to feel a little human, a little normal again. The impact is not trivial on my emotional well being and on relationship despite where it may fit in with Maslow.
    So, I guess I can’t quite agree with the article’s strong emphasis on “urge” or “desire” over “need”. And as I said above, I would rather have intimate sex with my wife than relief sex but a little relief sex (or other accommodation) would certainly aid in the former and my own well-being. So, the struggle continues. And yes, if need is overplayed for selfish desire it is wrong.

    Reply
    • M. C.

      Thank you Jan Ewing for expressing this side which I think is very true for many people. I am a woman with a very high drive who actually experiences similar things after several days without sex. My husband also has a very high drive and experiences the same things. As part of our marriage counseling we were recently challenged to 90 days with no sex. I felt guilty because I literally could not do it. I could not go over a week. At the same time I highly recommend at least attempting such a challenge because it healed SO much of the obligation sex message that was ruining our relationship. Anyways, I’ve been contemplating a lot whether it is a need or not. I experience it as a need. I don’t think people should feel like terrible people if they have these extremely strong desires that overwhelm them mentally, emotionally, and physically when not met for a while.

      Reply
  11. Sue

    Yep, I read all those books, some are still on my shelf. The Act of Marriage was popular before I got married, but I read it. As I was getting married 32 years ago the popular book that I haven’t seen you mention was: His needs, Her needs. At least they were both referred to as needs. His number 2 need was sex. Hers was affection. The idea is that I need to give him sex and he needs to give me affection. Note that all these books were written by men.
    I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Sex was primarily for men, he must have his needs met, or he will stray. He has attractive women to observe all day at the office, so I need to be attractive and available when he comes home.
    As it turned out my husband has a sexual addiction, and some very specific behaviors and attire that are a turn on to him. In my effort to be the good wife, I tried to meet some of these, then finally realized that nothing I could do would ever measure up to his fantasy. Of course we were totally missing the emotional intimacy piece in our marriage. If I had not been indoctrinated by “good Christian sex book” perhaps I could have identified the problem earlier and we could have gotten help many years ago.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Sue, I’m so sorry! Yes, His Needs, Her Needs was part of the study for The Great Sex Rescue, and it was an extremely problematic book, to put it mildly. You may find a lot of validation in reading our book, because we call them out for a lot of things (including minimizing marital rape). It’s just so sad that the book had the chance to hurt that many couples!

      Reply
  12. Sue

    So I am wondering how this myth got started- that men have a physical need for sexual release, and wives are required to be a available for that. You have mentioned at least 4 books by male authors. There’s another His Needs, Her Needs that perpetuates this idea. I remember being told, as if a scientific fact that men get a build up of sperm and must have release every 72 hours.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, His Needs, Her Needs is analyzed in our new book The Great Sex Rescue as well. It didn’t do well on our rubric of healthy sexuality, either! I think we need to talk about sex in a much healthier way. It’s a gift; we should be enjoying it; it’s important; let’s prioritize it; it’s way to love and serve one another. But when we make it into an obligation we change the nature of it, and it backfires.

      Reply
  13. Jacqueline

    Thank you Sheila for showing how important it is to define words properly and understand their meaning. I reread the chapter entitled “Sexuality” in The Power of a Praying Wife that you quoted from. Parts of it really made me shudder. The book strongly suggests that frequent sex is meeting the needs of the husband (no mention of the wife) and that it is an important means of fulfillment for a man. My question is , what about unmarried men? Where are they meant to get their needs met and fulfillment in this area if it’s such a basic and primal part of every man’s life? Surely it can’t just be a need for married men and not for unmarried men. Therefore, I summize that a wife is not obligated to meet every sexual need a husband has. Her desire to meet any such need will be out of a need to grow in intimacy and closeness, which should be mutial. Those who advocate sex as meeting a husband’s need, what do they advocate for single men? How are they to get their needs met?

    Reply
    • Jan

      Jacqueline, for meeting the physical aspect of the “need” most single men masturbate as statistics show. That does not of course meet the entire need (total fulfillment) as it doesn’t address the intimacy aspect (since God did create us for relatioship).

      Reply
      • Lisa

        Statistics seem to show that just under 25% of single men in their 20s masturbate 2-3 times a week. About 8% of women masturbate at that frequency.
        When you get down to 3-4 times a month, the numbers are closer. When you look at masturbation in general without discussing frequency, the stat for men is 91% and for women it’s 78%.
        Women masturbate, also, including married women if sex with their husband leaves them hanging. It’s not a male only thing.

        Reply

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